Dortmund - They were made work hard and fight right until the end, but Borussia Dortmund's narrow 1-0 victory over by Hannover 96 on Matchday 9 keeps Jürgen Klopp's charges firmly in touch with leaders FC Bayern München.
Speaking after the Matchday 9 win, summer signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang explained to bundesliga.com why the team struggled against the Lower Saxons, as well as casting an eye towards a huge few days next week, when BVB face Arsenal FC in the UEFA Champions League before a local derby at arch-rivals FC Schalke 04.
bundesliga.com: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hannover gave you a hard time and looked to be the stronger side as the game went on.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: That's right. Things became increasingly difficult for us. We let the game slip away from us and let Hannover find a way into it. I think it was because a lot of our players had played for their national sides and have had long journeys behind them. Some of our players have also only just returned from injuries and haven't even been able to train properly. We weren't quite at our best today.
bundesliga.com: So was the team's performance simply down to fatigue?
Aubameyang: I had the impression some of us were already tired going into the game, and it got worse as the match proceeded. We didn't have our usual rhythm and didn’t play the high tempo football we normally do. But a second goal would've killed the game.
bundesliga.com: There were moments when Dortmund seemed to lose concentration.
Aubameyang: Our passing really wasn't precise enough, which meant it was really difficult to create clear-cut chances. We also allowed Hannover to get in front of our goal too often.
bundesliga.com: So what can you learn from this game?
Aubameyang: You have to win these games if you want to be at the top. You can't play brilliantly every week and beat everyone by five or six goals. It was important to get the three points even with a mediocre performance and we're still in contention at the top of the table. And we didn't concede, so that's definitely a positive.
bundesliga.com: Dortmund have now levelled a club record...
Aubameyang: So I heard. Dortmund have only once been on 22 points nine games into a season. And five wins from the opening home encounters are a new club record apparently. We spoke about this in the dressing room just now. Hopefully the run continues.
bundesliga.com:Die Schwarz-Gelben faithful will be hoping for a derby win at Schalke next weekend. What do you expect from the game?
Aubameyang:(laughing)Kevin Großkreutz explained to me on my arrival this summer how important this game is for both the fans and the club. But we're taking it step by step - beating Hannover was crucial, and now we're up against Arsenal on Tuesday. After that we'll focus on Schalke.
bundesliga.com: Do you expect the players to be in better shape for the encounter in London?
Aubameyang: We'll have further recovered by then and we'll be in better form. Having a big game in the Champions League should give us extra motivation.
bundesliga.com: Will stopping [Germany playmaker] Mesut Özil be the key against Arsenal?
Aubameyang: Özil is in great form and is crucial to Arsenal's game, but they're a quality side anyway. Olivier Giroud, for example, is also a very good player, I know him well from my time in France, he's a dangerous striker. Playing Arsenal won't be easy at all and we'll have to do better than we did on Saturday.
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